1) Positive thinking
Having the correct state of mind is crucial to a good ride. Whether you’re learning a new skill or pushing for a fast lap, a good mind set will pay dividends. Developing a new skill requires you to ride within your limitations, placing your attention on what you are doing. This allows you to understand the technique and gives your brain the time to digest new information. In the first few sessions of a trackday only work on one area of your riding.
2) Study a circuit map
The importance of a circuit map cannot be underestimated. Used correctly there are many advantages to be gained, none more-so than highlighting clear, easy to identify objects and markers for your braking, turn entry, apex and corner exit. Replaying laps of the circuit in your mind using these markers will reinforce the track layout and the lines you have chosen. Once you have specific makers set for a given turn you can refine them to become more efficient and reduce your lap times.
3) Raise your vision
All of the senses are working overtime when pushing personal limits, but the eyes often have a mind of their own. It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what we are doing rather than what we want to do. Identifying reference points early will give you a better sense of speed, improve steering accuracy and throttle control.
4) Find your lines
One of the most common problems riders face is being able to understand what makes a good line. When constructing a corner start at the exit and work backwards. Your track position on the exit is dictated by your apex. Knowing the exact point of the apex will help you decide on a turn area. The position and the consistency of your mid-corner position is what truly dictates your line through a turn. Make a concerted effort to use good vision and locate a late apex to run faster lines.
5) Do corner preparation
The key to success is to get as much as possible done before the corner. Set yourself up early by moving your body position in to place before the turn entry. This helps the bike to remain stable.
6) Sort your braking
Use of the brakes on track has one primary function over all others, to set your speed for the turn. A very useful technique which allows you to set your speed deeper into the turn is trail braking. The initial hard braking should be done early while the bike is upright, reducing the risk of losing traction while the forks are compressed absorbing any bumps. As the turn begins and the lean angle increases additional cornering forces are placed on the tyre and suspension. The brake pressure should be released smoothly and in direct proportion to the increase in lean angle.
7) Turn quicker
One of the biggest limiting factors to increasing cornering speed and reducing your lap times is how quickly you can turn the bike. The faster you enter a corner, the quicker you must turn the bike. There are a number of ways to do this but the most effective way is to countersteer. Applying pressure to the right (inside) handlebar will turn the bike to the right and vice versa. The more pressure you apply the quicker the bike will turn. Using the pegs can assist with this and will allow you to run faster corner entry speeds.
8) Stand it up
A major factor to increasing your speed is how quickly you can get to full gas. Being patient with the throttle will help, and used in conjunction with picking the bike up on the exit will make use of its full potential. Standing the bike up reduces the lean angle and allows the suspension to work more effectively. This reduces the cornering forces and load on the tyres, enabling you to drive the bike out of the turn. Timing is important – too early and the bike will run wide. Get it right and you will smash your best times.
9) Be patient
Rolling the throttle on too hard early in the turn will push the bike wide, forcing you to hesitate or even roll of the throttle. Be disciplined and wait for the precise moment you can drive out of the turn. This will allow you to be assertive with your throttle and get to full gas sooner, carrying more speed down the straights.